Background: An often overlooked problem in food and nutrition systems analysis is assuring adequate diversity of nutrients for healthy diet. Ntritional functional diversity (NFD) is a metric that describes diversity in providing nutrients from farm fields to markets and all the way to the consumption level. The objective of this study was to determine the NFD score at different stages of rural food system, from Household’s agricultural and home production, processing, to purchased food and diet, and to explore the association between NFD and nutrient adequacy, food security and anthropometric indicators.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted on 321 household’s in 6 villages of Zahedan district. The NFD score was measured at three subsystems (production, processing and consumption) of food and nutrition system. To assess the association between NFD and food and nutrition indicators, such variables as household’s food security, mean adequacy ratio (MAR), and anthropometric indicators of household’s head were also measured. Different bivariate and multivariate statistical techniques were applied to study the association between variables.
Results: In rural food and nutrition system, the foods purchased from the city play the main roles in the household’s NFD score. Their role in NFD was twice that of the foods purchased from village. As well, NFD score of homestead production and household’s processing were found to be five times less than those of foods purchased from cities. The food insecure household’s had significantly lower NFD scores of food purchased from the city as well as higher NFD score for purchased foods from the rural market and native plants consumption. Additionally, a strong and positive relationship was observed between NFD of household’s diet with that of household’s MAR. Of note, no significant association was found between NFD score of homestead production and processing and food insecurity, MAR, and household head anthropometric.
Conclusion: NFD score can serve as a good indicator in assessing the food system, which can also be used by policy makers to identify gaps in the local food and nutrition system, and plan appropriate interventions for improving diversity and addressing food insecurity.